6. Preparation for the independent examination

Published: 18/04/2019
Updated: 18/04/2019

Responsibility for maintaining the accounting records and the preparation of accounts always remains with the charity trustees, even where the charity trustees actually employ someone else to carry this out.

In this section, we look at how the information that has been kept by the charity during the financial year should be prepared for presentation to the independent examiner and how the charity trustees themselves should prepare for the process.

Part of the role of the independent examiner is to review the accounting records kept by the charity and compare them with the accounts prepared from those records. In preparation for the independent examination process, the charity trustees should make sure that:

  • the accounting records provide a complete record of all transactions that the charity has entered into during the financial year and are fully up to date

  • the accounting records are sufficiently detailed to show and explain the transactions (see the Table  below for explanations of the terms used). In particular, they must be able to:

–        show, day to day, the money received and spent by the charity

–        record the assets and liabilities of the charity

–        disclose the financial position of the charity at any time

–        produce a statement of account in line with the 2006 Regulations

 

  • the trustees’ annual report and accounts are prepared for the examiner, unless the independent examiner is assisting in the preparation of the accounts

  • they are prepared to answer any questions regarding the financial transactions that have taken place during the year or to provide any other information that the examiner may require (for example, minutes of charity trustee meetings). The examiner is entitled to seek any information or further explanation for any matter which comes to their attention in the course of their work. If any information that the examiner requests is not made available, the examiner may make a statement within the report to that effect. It is important to note that the entitlement of the independent examiner to any information that they deem necessary for the fulfilment of their duties extends to information from both current and former charity trustees and employees.

For small charities with simple financial transactions, the accounting records should be kept in a manner that allows them to be summarised on a regular basis, perhaps every quarter. More complex charities should be able to pull their results together more frequently, such as monthly or even weekly. The quality of the books and records held will either help or hinder the charity trustees in their efforts to manage the financial affairs of the charity. If the books and records have been kept in an appropriate manner, then the preparation of the year end accounts should be much easier and possibly less costly.

Explanation of terms used in describing the requirements for keeping accounting records 

Sufficiently detailed

This will depend on the size and complexity of the charity. The larger and more complex the charity, the more complex the accounting records would need to be.

Day to day

This includes assets and liabilities. Records must be written up so you can see the transactions on a daily basis.

Assets and liabilities

The accounting records of the charity must include registers of equipment and investments, lists of money owed to and by the charity (if appropriate).

At any time

A third party with sufficient experience could draw up a set of accounts at any time in the year, not just at the year end.

 

Completion of the independent examination

The outcome of an independent examination is a report from the examiner to the trustees.

At the conclusion of the examination, the examiner may ask the trustees to amend the trustees’ annual report and/or accounts to correct errors or omissions that they have identified.  They may also request written assurances from the trustees about matters arising during the examination.

Once the examination is complete the independent examiner will be in a position to sign their report.  The trustees should then submit a copy of their accounts and the report to OSCR with their online annual return.